2015 is almost done and still mobile phone battery life is shockingly awful, with most smartphones barely making it through a day of heavy use. Could 2016 finally be the year that our phones become super-charged, long-lasting devices?
It's no wonder that mobile phones still have crap battery life. After all, smartphones these days are as powerful as some laptops, packing massive HD screens and professional camera technology. So what's the solution to give us better battery life in our mobile devices? Let's take a look at some of the smart new battery-saving tech you might see in 2016.
Read next: Phones with best battery life from 2015
The innovative e-ink phone
Smartphone manufacturer Yota Devices has already come up with a unique way of extending a mobile's battery life, with its innovative YotaPhone 2. This dual-screen device looks like your typical phone, with one key difference - there's an e-ink display (like the Amazon Kindle's) around the back.
The idea is that you use the low-powered e-ink touchscreen to check your notifications, read and reply to messages etc, only turning on the power-sapping main screen to watch video, play wth apps and so on. It's a smart idea, as those backlit displays are the main power-sucking element of any mobile.
However, we found that using that e-ink screen didn't make a huge difference to our overall battery life, giving us around two and a bit days of life between charges. It's a start, but it's not enough.
Massive mobile phone batteries
Some companies such as Chinese manufacturer Oukitel have gone for a very unsubtle approach to mastering mobile battery life: chuck a massive bloody battery into your phone.
The Oukitel 10000, leaked back in July 2015, boasts a ridiculously massive 10000mAh battery - that's a huge increase on the standard 2000-3000mAh cells found in most modern smartphones, and even bigger than most tablet batteries. As a result, the Oukitel 10000 enjoys a reported 15 days of use between charges.
Of course, the Oukitel 10000 also looks like an absolute beast in photos, which isn't too surprising given how big that battery must be. It kind of reminds us of the Lamborghini 88 Tauri phone, with its chunky chassis; and if you don't fancy carrying a brick in your pocket or purse, this isn't really a very viable solution.
We need some all-new battery tech in 2016 to make a serious impact without compromising on design.
Faster charging and longer lasting
We already have 'fast charging' in phones such as the Galaxy S6, but let's face it, a couple of hours of decent use from ten minutes at the plug still isn't amazing. That could all change in 2016, however.
One exciting talent to keep an eye on is Eesha Khare, a Harvard student who developed an award-winning battery. Her tiny invention can store an impressive amount of energy despite its miniature size, a key factor that could revolutionise smartphone battery technology.
Eesha's 'supercapacitor energy storage device' is made of carbon fibre and metal oxides, and the clever nanotech not only charges mobile devices at a faster rate than previously possible, it also holds charge for much longer. Eesha is still working on her project, stating 'my goal is to have a supercapacitor charge a mobile device in less than a minute'. And while she hasn't sold the technology to any manufacturers yet, she did reveal that Google approached her recently...
Meanwhile, a Kansas-based engineer called Shawn West has developed a prototype AA cell which charges from empty to full in under half a minute, which would be perfect if you suddenly realise your phone is dead as you're about to step out your front door. If West’s battery tech was implemented by a huge manufacturer like Apple or Sony, we could see smartphones that charge faster than you can say ‘where the hell did I put that bloody cable’.
Speaking of cables, one of the biggest new developments in battery tech is wireless charging, but not the gubbins that has you sticking your phone on some ugly brick of a pad all day. Ossia Inc. revealed its cool new Cota project last year, which can charge multiple mobile devices wirelessly over a distance of 30 feet, even through clothes, walls and doors. That means you could potentially ditch your smartphone's charger altogether, if these wireless base stations are cheap enough to install in your home and appear in work places.
The tech is still far from perfect, sadly. Most of the energy is lost between the charging station and the receiver, and the power transmitted has a one watt limit, just about enough to power a smartphone.
Don't despair, though. Wireless charging pads now come built into furniture, as you can see in the above video. If you can stick your phone down on your work desk or coffee table back home and have it fully charge in very little time, then you won't ever have to worry about plugging it in again. The only issue then is if you wander off into the wilderness for a wet and wild weekend.
Bizarre new charging methods
But perhaps some day soon we'll have the power to charge our phone on the go, without having to plug it into a bulky, cumbersome power pack (which then also needs charging up).
For instance, Nokia has teamed up with some British boffins to create a prototype phone that's powered by background noise, which means your phone could potentially never die. Nokia hasn't stopped there, however, and has already launched the world's first pair of wireless charging trousers. Could future smartphones be powered by our kecks alone? We bloody hope so.
Until that magical day when mobile battery life suddenly shoots up, here's some tips to getting longer life from your phone.
Source for Eeesha Khare
Source for Cota